Blog: 26 May 2016Population Projections released for England

Debbie Mayes

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Debbie Mayes

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The 2014-based Sub National Population Projections (SNPP) for England were published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on 25 May 2016.  These project population growth in each English local authority over the 25-year period 2014 to 2039.  Equivalent projections for Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales are due to be published separately by the respective statistical agencies over the coming months.

The latest SNPP replace the earlier 2012-based SNPP and are consistent with the 2014-based National Population Projections for England published by ONS on 29 October 2015.

The population of England is projected to grow slightly faster according to the 2014-based SNPP, with London, the East of England and the South East all projected to grow at a faster rate than England.

The table below shows that the 2014-based SNPP project higher growth than the 2012-based SNPP for all regions, with the exception of Yorkshire and the Humber.  The largest difference in projected growth is in the West Midlands and East Midlands regions.

Of the 326 local authorities in England, 315 (97%) are projected to see a growth in their population over the period 2014-2039 according to the 2014-based SNPP (the remaining 11 projected to see no change or a population decline).

However, when compared to the growth projected by the 2012-based SNPP, 183 local authorities (56%) are projected to see higher absolute population growth according to the 2014-based SNPP than previously projected in the 2012-based SNPP.  Our interactive map presents the scale of the difference for each individual authority – those authorities coloured blue are projected to see lower population growth and those authorities coloured yellow/ orange are projected to see higher projected population growth in the 2014-based SNPP compared to the 2012-based SNPP.

The implications for housing need: The 2014-based SNPP will play an important role in determining future housing needs as the SNPP underpin CLG household projections, which according to PPG should provide the starting point for assessing housing need.

The corresponding CLG 2014-based household projections are due to be published in June/ July 2016 (provisional).  It is anticipated that when they are published, projected household growth is likely to be higher than seen in the current CLG 2012-based household projections due to the higher population growth of the 2014-based SNPP underpinning them.

However, there are several factors that cast doubt on the reliability of the 2014-based SNPP for assessing housing need.  The main issues being:

1. SNPPs are based upon recent trends (last 5/6-years) in population growth and project these trends to continue into the future. The past trends underpinning the 2014-based SNPP incorporate the tail end of the recessionary period and therefore can still be considered to provide a conservative estimate of future population growth, despite projecting higher growth than the 2012-based SNPP in many local authorities.

2. Furthermore the 2014-based SNPP are underpinned by an assumption of 185,000 net international migrants per annum (2014-2039) nationally which is low in the context of the quarterly international migration estimates published by the ONS, the latest of which (year ending September 2015) estimate an average of 323,000 net international migrants per annum.

For these reasons, and in accordance with PPG, the SNPP should only provide the starting point estimate of assessing housing need and alternative population growth taking account of longer term (for example, 10-year) migration trends should be considered.

Local authorities are also required to consider other factors including economic growth, market signals and affordable housing need when setting future housing requirements, all of which are likely to increase demand above the starting point estimate.

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Population Projections, Research, DCLG